The story begins with a terribly serious situation into which Jesus intervenes, and ends with an almost humorous disbelief on the part of those who had known the blind beggar before he was healed. Even in the most serious of ministry work there is humanity, and humanity, while dignified, is often graced with a touch of humbling humor—we take God seriously but not ourselves.
First of all, the disciples notice a man who has been blind from birth. The disciples want to know whose fault this was, specifically who sinned, this man or his parents. They are assuming a connection that is invalid. They are assuming that physical ailments result from sin and ergo if someone has physical ailments, they (or their parents) must have sinned. But this is an invalid theological deduction. While it is true that all suffering in this world does stem from the fact that this world as a whole is in rebellious sin against its Creator, it is not true that each person’s suffering stems from a particular sin that that person has committed.
How important it is to underline this truth: your sufferings, your pain, your disappointments are not always because you have done something wrong. Certainly, if someone steals and is caught and is thrown in jail and they suffer because of their wrongdoing, then that suffering is a direct result of their crime. But there is much illness, mental and physical, relational friction, that has nothing to do with our individual sins. We live in a broken world, and brokenness is the world that we know all too well.
In fact, as it was in this case, our sufferings, far from being our direct fault, are sovereignly designed by God for his people to display the mighty works of God. What a beautiful balm this is to our illnesses and our pains: God has designed this moment so that his glory might be more fully revealed in how we patiently endure, how we even die well to the glory of God! In this case the man is healed. But not everyone is healed today; otherwise, there would be no godly Christian who ever dies. But even in our death, as much as our life, God is glorified!
Jesus uses this moment to urge diligence upon his disciples. Night is coming when no one can work. There is a work that can be done in this world that cannot be done in the next. What is that work? It is evangelism. There will be praise in heaven. But there will be no one who needs to be evangelized in heaven. So give yourself to the work of evangelism while there is still yet time. Jesus did: while he was in the world, he was the light of the world, and we too are to shine our light for his glory while here in this world.
Jesus has a particular process for healing the man. Why the spit? Why the mud? Why anoint the man’s eyes with the mud? It is a visual aid for a non-visual person. The blind man cannot see Jesus, but he can feel Jesus anoint his eyes. Look how carefully Jesus communicates at the level that this man can understand. We too are to be careful to cut the cloth of our words to suit the understanding level of those we seek to reach. He goes to the pool of Siloam, and in the enacting of this healing, he now comes back seeing.
But now comes the almost humorous section! The neighbors and those who knew him keep on wondering whether he is the man. Some say yes. Some say no. Clearly he can see—how is this possible? Surely he cannot be the same person? But he looks like the same person. All the while he keeps on insisting that he is the man who used to blind. Look, says the man, I should know, I was he. They hardly believe it and ask him that if he was the man who was blind, how come he now sees. He says Jesus healed him. They then ask where is Jesus. He says he doesn’t know.
And we must wait for the rest of this remarkable story until tomorrow—but how amazing that now this man who sees is surrounded by people who are spiritually blind! They cannot see what is as plain as the nose on their faces: he was healed! Let us pray that God would give us eyes to see what it is that he is doing in our world today, and most of all eyes to see who he is, and worship Him this morning as Lord and God of all.
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